Is Mount Horeb (Mt. Sinai) Jebel `Arribeh by St. Catherine's or Mount Timna?

Walter Reinhold Warttig Mattfeld y de la Torre, M.A. Ed.

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21 April 2002 (Revisions through 29 May 2010)

I understand "two locations are fused together" for Mt. Horeb/Sinai, Har Timna in the southern Arabah preserves Horeb "near" Midian (modern Madyan in NW Saudi Arabia) and the Gebel Serabit el Khadim mining region in the southern Sinai preserves Moses' receiving the Ten Commandments. I have proposed in another article that "the rock of Horeb at Rephidim" and Mt. Sinai (Ex 17:1,6; 19:1-2) may be recalling Gebels Serabit el Khadim, Ghorabi and Saniya, which all lie to the ESE of the Egyptian miner's Hathor Temple. Click on the following url for the in-depth argumentation and its accompanying maps: "The Route of the Exodus" cf. also my map of the sites enumerated in the Route of the Exodus from Goshen to Jericho.

There are over a dozen proposals for Mount Sinai or Mount Horeb's location, some suggest it lies in the southern Sinai, others the northern Sinai, still others aver it is in the Negev, while a few opt for it being in either the Arabah, Edom or Midian (Madyan in NW Saudi Arabia). If interested in viewing these proposals please click here.

There are many different proposals for the location of Mount Horeb, Kraeling investigates all of them (pp.110-113. "The Wilderness Sojourn." Emil G. Kraeling. Rand McNally Bible Atlas. New York. Rand McNally & Co. 1966).

Late Roman Christian traditions (4th-6th century AD) assign the mount to the vicinity of the Saint Catherine Monastery erected in the 6th century AD. Perhaps the name, "Horeb," may survive in Arabic as  Jebel `Arribeh, (6160 meters) a crag which lies Northeast of the Monastery? At the base of `Arribeh lies a hillock called the Hill of Harun (Aaron).  Nineteenth century AD travelers noted that it is approximately 11 days journey via camel from the vicinity of Saint Catherine's to Ain Qadeis (which is Kadesh Barnea according to some scholars) in the Negev, appearing to mirror the biblical account (cf. Deuteronomy 1:2). There are other peaks, elevations or mounts near the Monastery which also vie with each other for the designation "Mount Sinai," such as Ras Safsafa, Gebel Musa (Arabic: "Mount of Moses"), and Gebel Katharina (the highest peak in the Sinai, named after the Christian Saint Catherine or Katharina). Scholars favoring Ras Safsafa being Mt. Sinai note that a great plain called er Raha (or el Raha) lies at its northern base, suggesting perhaps Israel assembled on this plain, and that Gebel Musa is not visible as Ras Safsafa blocks a view of it from the plain. I note a Gebel Sun'a with an elevation of 1939 meters lying on the north side of the er Raha plain, opposite the "hill of Harun" and Ras Safsafa which lie on the south side of the plain, whose name "might" preserve Sinai as the 3rd century BC Greek Septuaginta version of the Bible preserves the mount's name as Sina (cf. map titled Gebel Katherina. Sheet 9. Survey of Egypt. 1937. 1:100,000 scale).

I am unaware of an archaeological survey finding any kind of archaeological debris in the period Before Christ in the "immediate vicinity" of Gebels Ras Safsafa, 'Arribeh, Musa and Katherina/Catherina or the nearby plain of er Raha. The only debris in the "immediate area," that is to say in less than a mile from any of the aforementioned sites is Late Roman and Byzantine of the 4th through 9th centuries AD. 

The "nearest" location possessing any kind of earlier archaeological debris is at Sheikh Nabi Saleh in Wadi esh Sheikh, a headwater of Wadi Feiran, some _four miles_ ENE of Saint Catherine's Monastery. At this location exists the remains of circular stone huts, corrals for sheep and goats, and burial tumuli of copper miners from Arad and the Negev who worked the copper mines of Wadi Riqeita, some 8 miles ENE of St. Catherine's Monastery in the Early Bronze II period (ca. 3000-2700 BC).

The nearest archaeological site to the WNW _as one would come from Egypt to "Mt. Sinai"_ and St. Catherine's Monastery (Gebels Ras Safsafa, Musa, Katherina and 'Arribeh), is at Sheikh Awad, another Early Bronze II site with remains of circuar stone huts, corrals and burial tumuli, just north of Naqb Hawah (Arabic: "the pass of the wind"), some 8 miles WNW of Ras Safsafa and the plain of er Raha.

According to the 4th/5th century AD (?) Christian Pilgrimess Egeria (variousy called Etheria or Silvia) the holymen who served as her guides pointed out various stone circles in the valley approaching Mount Sinai (Gebel Musa) that were huts built by the Israelites during "the year" that they dwelt at Mount Sinai. The two valley approaches to Mt. Sinai (Ras Safsafa, Musa, Katharina) from Egypt are via either Sheikh Awad and Naqb Hawah to the plain of er-Raha or via the Watia Pass and Wadi esh Sheikh and Sheikh Nabi Saleh ending at er-Raha. Both Sheikh Awad and Saleh have Early Bronze II seasonal encampments. These stone circles have been archaeologically excavated and they are Early Bronze II, not the Late Bronze Age or Early Iron I Israelite.

One must remember that until Sir Flinders Petrie and his successors developed pottery chrononologies associated with Egyptian pharaonic cartouches, no one had any idea as to how old any site was in the Sinai, Negev or Arabah.

If the Judaeans who left their Iron II 9th-8th century BC pottery at the Feiran Oasis, which became Byzantine Pharan, identified Mount Sinai with Ras Safsafa or Gebel Musa, then they probably did so on the basis of the Early Bronze II encampments that they found throughout the southern Sinai, in error, thinking they were Israel's (just as the Christian guides were misinformed in Egeria's day). Egeria stated that Pharan was about 30 Roman miles west of Mount Sinai which aligns with Gebel Musa or Ras Safsafa's distance from the Feiran Oasis which has Early Bronze II sites as well as a Tell which has Judaean Iron II sherds of the 9th-8th Century BC through Nabatean, Roman and Byzantine times.

The Bible suggests that the Exodus occured ca. 1446 BC (cf. 1 Kings 6:1) for some Protestant scholars, which would place the event in the Late Bronze Age (ca. 1570-1200 BC). Most archaeologists prefer, on the basis of archaeological findings in Israel, to date the settling of the Promised Land by Israel to the Early Iron I, the Ramesside period  (ca. 1200-1100 BC), noting the sudden appearance of over 200 Iron I villages in the Hill Country. The destruction of the Canaanite cities by Joshua would have to be the end of Late Bronze Age in this scenario. The problem is that  according to several leading archaeologists, there is no evidence of a series of Late Bronze Age campsites anywhere in the Sinai or Negev (Kadesh Barnea being identified with Ain Qadeis or Ain el Qudeirat in the Negev and neither of these two sites date earlier than the late 10th century BC or Iron Age II).

Repeated archaeological surveys of the area about Saint Catherine's have failed to find any Late Bronze Age campsites. The thousands that allegedly perished in the worship of the Golden Calf should have left numerous burial tumuli, but to date no Late Bonze Age graves have been found (yet burial tumuli exist for earlier times in other areas of the Sinai like the Early Bronze Age of the 3rd millenium BC). For these reasons mainstream critical scholarship understands that the Exodus and conquest of Canaan as presented in the Hebrew Bible is fiction.

Perevolotsky and Finkelstein on the absence of archaeological evidence for an Exodus presence in the Southern Sinai:

"In recent years archaeological research in the Sinai peninsula has burgeoned as never before. Intensive surveys and excavations have been carried out in all regions of the peninsula, and what was once a remote and mysterious region has become, archaeologically speaking, well known and relatively understood. All this archaeological activity, however, has contributed almost nothing to our understanding of the Exodus. This is true despite the fact that the Bible describes the wanderings of the Israelites at great length and even provides us with a long list of place-names where the children of Israel encamped during their wanderings (Numbers 33). But, so far, no remains from the Late Bronze Age (15th-13th centuries BC- the period in which these events were supposed to have taken place) or even from the subsequent Iron Age I have been found anywhere in the whole Sinai peninsula, except for archaeological evidence of Egyptian activity on Sinai's northern coastal strip. Accordingly, no progress has been made in locating the Israelite encampments, in identifying their route, or in fixing the site of Mt. Sinai."

(p. 28. Aviram Perevolotsky & Israel Finkelstein, "The Southern Sinai Exodus Route in Ecological Perspective." Biblical Archaeology Review. July-August 1985, Vol. XI, No.4)

Rosen:

"The virtual absence of remains from the Middle Bronze or Late Bronze Ages in this area [the Lower Negeb] and the rest of the Negeb contradict the 38 year Israelite settlement recounted in Exodus. Similar problems attend virtually all attempts to identify specific sites (especially Mt. Sinai)) in the Central Negeb with places mentioned in Exodus."

(p.1064. Vol. 4. Steven A. Rosen, "Negeb." David Noel Freedman, Editor. The Anchor Bible Dictionary. New York. Doubleday. 1992. 6 vols.)

Dever:

"The Sinai Tradition...All we can say is that recent extensive exploration of the entire Sinai by Israeli archaeologists, geologists, and others has turned up virtually no Middle Bronze/Late Bronze presence in the Central or South Sinai. Our current detailed knowledge of this remote and hostile area calls into question the biblical tradition of a million-and-a-half or more people migrating there (Nu 11:21) for some 40 years (De 2:7). The barren terrain and sparse oasies might have supported a few straggling nomads, but no more than that."

(Vol. 3. p. 547.   Willam G. Dever, "Israel, History of, Archaeology and the Conquest." David Noel Freedman, Editor. The Anchor Bible Dictionary. New York. Doubleday. 1992. 6 vols. )

Romer also noted the absence of any evidence in the Sinai for Moses' Israelites (600,000 warriors, or one and a half million souls):

"Hard evidence of the Exodus event in the preserving deserts of the Sinai, where most of the biblical wandering takes place, is similarly elusive. Although its climate has preserved the tiniest traces of ancient bedouin encampments and the sparse 5000-year-old villages of mine workers, there is not a single trace of Moses or the Israelites; and they would have been by far the largest body of ancient people ever to have lived in this great wilderness."

(p. 58, "Genesis." John Romer. Testament, The Bible and History. New York. Henry Holt & Co. 1988. ISBN 0-8050-0939-6)

Finkelstein and Silberman:

"Some archaeological traces of their generation-long wandering in the Sinai should be apparent. However, except for the Egyptian forts along the northern oast, not a single campsite or sign of occupation from the time of Ramesses II and his immediate predecessors and successors has ever been identified in Sinai. And it has not been for lack of trying. Repeated archaeological surveys in all regions of the peninsula, including the mountainous area around the traditional site of Mount Sinai, near Saint Catherine's Monastery, have yielded only negative evidence: not even a single sherd, no structure, not a single house, no trace of an ancient encampment. One may argue that a relatively small band of wandering Israelites cannot be expected to leave material remains behind. But modern archaeological techniques are quite capable of tracing even the very meager remains of hunter-gatherers and pastoral nomads all over the world. Indeed, the archaeological record from the Sinai peninsula discloses evidence for pastoral activity in such eras as the third millenium BCE and the Hellenistic and Byzantine periods. There is simply no such evidence at the supposed time of the Exodus in the thirteenth century BCE."

(pp. 62-63, "Did the Exodus Happen ?" Israel Finkelstein & Neil Asher Silberman. The Bible Unearthed, Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of its Sacred Texts. New York. The Free Press. 2001.  ISBN 0-684-86912-8,  pp. 385 hdbk)

Contra the above assertions, I have noted the presence of Egyptian pottery in the Southern Sinai during the Late Bronze and Early Iron I (Ramesside) periods at the mining camps of Serabit el-Khadim and Timna (the latter being located on the eastern border of the Sinai, near the southwestern border of the Arabah).

I have argued elsewhere that these camps are what lie  -in part-  behind the Exodus narratives.

Finkelstein and Silberman have argued, convinicingly for me, that the Exodus narrative was first composed in the late 7th or early 6th century BC. It follows, if they are right, that there should be some evidence of a presence of some sort from Late Iron II (640-562 BC) in the vicinity of Mount Sinai, "wherever" it might be.

Aharoni noted that at the Feiran oasis (which might preserve the biblical name Paran) Iron II sherds were found from ancient Judah. These sherds could be, then, "a marker" that the biblical account of 640-562 BC is based upon reports coming from Judahites, who had occasion to travel in the Southern Sinai, and who made the association of Mount Sinai with one of the peaks in the Southern Sinai.

Aharoni:

"However, an extremely important archaeological discovery made during the last survey of Sinai now compels us to re-examine all our previous assumptions. An expedition headed by Professor Mazar examined the tell of the desert oasis of Feiran. This is the principal oasis, stretching for a few miles, of southern Sinai. It lies at the foot of the lofty Mount Serbal and is fed by the melting snow that covers the summits of the high granite mountains in winter. A purling stream provides water for graceful date-palms, orchards and flourishing vegetable-gardens. Rising prominently in the middle of the oasis is a tell on top of which many interesting remains of a large monastery of the Byzantine period have been preserved, and scattered all about the tell, over an area of about ten acres, the remains of buildings and walls are discernable. A careful examination by the Mazar expedition of the sherds they collected revealed that, apart from numerous Roman-Byzantine and early Arab sherds, the site abounded in Nabatean sherds. In addition, the site produced sherds of the Hellenistic period, Persian serds and some wheel-burnished sherds typical of the kingdom of Judah, belonging to Iron Age II, i.e., the period of the kings of Judah during the time of the First Temple. This, then, is the only tell discovered so far in Sinai  -perhaps the only tell there at all-  displaying a fairly prolonged continuity of settlement; at the very least, from the Iron Age, ca. 9th-8th centuries BC, through the Persian-Hellenistic and Roman-Byzantine periods up to the early Arab period."

(p.166, Yohanan Aharoni, "Kadesh-Barnea and Mount Sinai." Beno Rothenberg. God's Wilderness, Discoveries in Sinai. New York. Thomas Nelson & Sons.1961, 1962)

The Exodus narratives state that after encamping at Mt. Sinai, the Israelites then encamped in the wilderness of Paran:

"In the second year, on the twentieth day of the second month, the cloud lifted from the Tabernacle of the Testimony, and the Israelites moved by stages from the wilderness of Sinai, until the cloud came to rest in the wilderness of Paran." (Numbers 10:11-12 RSV)

Three days march from Mount Sinai and the wilderness of Sinai found them encamping again, suggesting the wilderness of Paran is three days march from Mt. Sinai (Numbers 10:33)

Hobab, brother-in-law of Moses and son of Reuel the Midianite, return to Midian from Mt. Sinai (Numbers 10:29-30).

The author appears to be confused about Mt. Sinai's whereabouts. He has Moses defeating the Amalekites at Rephidim (Exodus 17:8), after leaving the Wilderness of Sin (Exodus 17:1), while at Rephidim he strikes a rock causing a stream of water to erupt  to sustain his people. After Amalek's defeat he is portrayed entertaining his father-in-law, Jethro the Midianite at the mountain of God ((Exodus 18:1-3). Then in Exodus 19:1 we are informed Israel moves into the wilderness of Sinai, leaving Rephidim.  One would think the mountain of God is either at Rephidim or some place to the east of it. A wadi Refayid has been suggested for Rephidim (it lies east of Feiran and northwest of Gebel Musa and St. Catherine's). The problem, is that the wilderness of Paran, if it refers to the oasis of Feiran, lies west of Refayid and St. Catherine's, not east.

Midianite pottery is documented at Timna, an Egyptian mining camp on the east side of the Sinai (westside of the Arabah) of the Ramesside era, which would fit to a degree the biblical story. I am not aware of any Ramesside era Midianite pottery being found any further west, into the Sinai (such as Feiran or Gebel Musa by St. Catherine's).

As Moses is portrayed as dwelling in Midian and grazing his father-in-law's sheep westward to the edge of the wilderness (Exodus 3:1), and as Midian is generally associated with the area called Madyan in Arabic ( a region south of the port of Aqabah), the Ramesside events at Timna, on the very edge of the Sinai peninsula, suggest that it is most probably the original location "lurking behind" the confused and garbled biblical narratives. That is, Paran, Sinai, Horeb and Rephidim are genuine names found in the Southern Sinai, but their locations don't match the biblical sequencing of events.

If Finkelstein and Silberman are correct, and I suspect that they are, then the Exodus account and its attempt to locate Mt. Sinai is 600 years removed in time, from the Late Bronze/Early Iron I of the original Ramesside events at Timna, which would explain to some degree  -the garbled, transformed, and somewhat fantasized-  account.

The destruction of the Golden Calf at Mt. Sinai is then, to my understanding,a garbled memory of the Midianites at Timna effacing the stone pillars bearing the face of Hathor, the Cow-goddess, who gave birth to the sun every morning as a Calf.

Could it be that Timna, located at the western edge of the great Arabah valley which extends from the Dead Sea to the port of Aqaba, lies behinds the nomenclature "Horeb"? That is, Arabah has been transformed into Horeb? The mountain of Horeb is then, in this proposal, "the mountain of the Arabah", located in Sinai, that is, it is a part of the chain of mountains forming the eastern border of the Sinai Peninsula or the Sinai Wilderness?

Mainstream Critical scholars understand that Israel's settling of Canaan is attested archaeologically in Iron I, ca. 1200 BC with over 200 villages or hamlets appearing in the Hill Country. This is the Ramesside era, and the events at Timna are of the Ramesside era!

The Egyptian sanctuary at Timna, dedicated to Hathor, possessed votive objects bearing cartouches from Ramesses II (1304-1237 BC) through Ramesses V (ca. 1160-1156 BC); Midianite as well as Negebite pottery was found in association with Egyptian wares (cf. Vol. 4, pp.1184-1203, Beno Rothenberg, "Timna,"  Michael Avi-Yonah & Ephraim Stern, Editiors. Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Prentice-Hall. 1978. ISBN 0-13-275149-6)

After the Egyptians left Timna the Midianites are believed to have desecrated the Hathor Shrine and erected a Tabernacle or Tent Shrine, with Masseboth (standing stones) and a copper snake in the Naos area. The Hathor pillars bearing her face, with cow ears, were effaced and reused, being placed "upside down." The bronze snake, the tent and the effacing may be what lurks behind the Bible's portrayals of Moses making a bronze snake for Israel to worship, the tent may be what's behind the Tabernacle of Israel in the wilderness, and the effacement of Hathor has been recast as the destruction of the Golden Calf. Some of the votive objects dedicated to Hathor may have been dedicated by the peoples working the copper mines whose pottery is from the Negev, Southern Canaan and Midian, recalling the association in the Bible of Midianites and Israelites in the Sinai and Arabah wanderings (Israel being in the Patriarchal era of Southern Canaan and the Negeb). It is my understanding that these votive offerings from Midianites and Southern Canaanites were transformed into Israel in the wilderness worshipping the Golden Calf. The date of the Exodus, ca. 1560/1540 BC (cf. chronology totals from Judges, Samuel and Kings) reveal that the Late Bronze Age Hyksos expulsion by Pharaoh Ahmose I is what is being fused to the Ramesside events at Timna.

Rothenberg and Glass noted 12 mining camps in the Har Timna copper mining area run by the Egyptians which all posssessed Midianite pottery (which is also called al Qurayya ware, after the site in North-West Arabia where it was produced), all dating to the Ramesside period. Could these 12 camps be what's behind the notion that Israel in the wilderness also had 12 tribal camps, who entertained Jethro's Midianites and Kenites ("metal smiths") at the Mountain of God (Hebrew: Har-El) also called Mount Horeb or Mount Sinai?

Rothenberg and Glass:

"Between 1964 and 1976, three smelting camps were excavated in the Timna valley, and at all three sites Midianite pottery was found in the layers of the New Egyptian Kingdom, dated, on the basis of finds at Site No. 200 (the Egyptian-Midianite Sanctuary of Timna), to the 19th-20th Dynasties, i.e., from the beginning of the thirteenth to the mid-twelfth century BC. Nine other sites in the valley also produced the same Midianite pottery."

(p.77. Beno Rothenberg & Jonathan Glass. "The Midianite Pottery." John F.A. Sawyer & David J.A. Clines, editors. Midian, Moab and Edom, The History and Archaeology of Late Bronze Age Jordan and North-West Arabia. Sheffield, England. JSOT Press. 1983)

Rothenberg and Glass also noted that the presence of Midianite vessels at the Egyptian shrine of Hathor (at Timna) suggested that some Midianites honored this Egyptian cow-goddess (who, I have noted earlier, personified the sky which gave birth to the sun-god each morning as a Golden Calf).

Rothenberg and Glass:

"At the smelting sites excavated at Timna (Sites Nos. 2 and 3), most of the pottery found consisted of large bowls   -some undecorated-  and jugs. These were mainly "domestic" vessels, and no large Midianite vessels for storage or transport were found. It is obvious that the metal workers at the Timna camps used the decorated vessels for their daily use and did not consider them anything special. On the other hand, at the "bamah" (high place) F of Site No. 2/52/ and in the Egyptian-Midianite Sanctuary (Site No. 200), the majority of the vessels were small, delicately-shaped with particularly intricate decorations. Evidently these vessels and of course the special votive cup were brought to the Timna Sanctuary as offerings to Hathor."

(p. 100. Rothenberg & Glass. 1983)

Rothenberg and Glass on the dating of the Midianite wares:

"Midianite pottery was found at twelve sites in the Timna Valley, but only three of them were excavated. The date of the use of this pottery at Site No. 200 -the Hethor Sanctuary- could be fixed by Egyptian inscriptions and inscribed objects, found in the same sealed layers, to the period from Ramesses II to Ramesses V, i,e., from ca. 1290 BC to 1152 BC."

(p.100. Rothenberg & Glass. 1983)

Rothenberg and Glass provided a map plotting various locations of Midianite wares in North-West Arabia, the Arabah, Edom, Jordan, the Hebron hill country, the Northern Negev and the northern Sinai south of Bardawil Lagoon. I note that the biblical presentation of the Exodus has Israel in the Sinai, Negev, Arabah, by passing Edom to wind up in Jordan, then in the Hebron Hill Country and the Negev under Joshua. Of interest here is that Midianite pottery is found in all these locations of the 13th-12th centuries BC, when some scholars suggest the Exodus took place (cf. p. 70. Figure 2. "Distribution Map of Midianite Pottery." Rothenberg & Glass. 1983). The Exodus account suggests that some Kenites accompanied Israel and Moses and settled near Arad. Midianite pottery has been found near Arad at Tel Masos in the Beersheva valley. Elsewhere I have argued that Kadesh Barnea is Tel Masos not Ain el Qudeirat ( I understand that Qudeirat is biblical Hazor Addar mentioned in Judah's south border).  Masos was determined to be the EARLIEST IRON IA encampment in all the Negev (ca. 1230 BC), and the BIGGEST, which aligns with the biblical scenario of all Israel being at Kadesh Barnea. By contrast, Ain el Qudeirat is _no earlier_ than the 10th century BC (Iron II).

II understand that the events at the Ramesside Hathor Shrine at Har Timna are -in part-  what lurks behind the Mt. Horeb/Sinai narratives. I "suspect" that knowledge of the various place names in the Southern Sinai, like Paran, Rephidim, Sinai, etc., were picked up in Iron II times (as witnessed by the 9th-8th century Judaean pottery found at Feiran), but that by this period, the 9th-8th century BC, memories had forgotten that Timna was the site of Mount Horeb; these site names from the 9th-8th century BC then came to "jumbled together" - the biblical narrator not knowing their true locations-   when the Pentateuch was written in the Exile, ca. 562 BC. The Timna valley was formerly known as wadi Mene'iyeh, could Arabic -iyeh preserve the Hebrew eyheh, from whence some scholars suspect Yahweh is derived (cf. Exodus 3:14, eyeh aser eyheh, "I Am that I AM", "...tell them Ehyeh has sent you.")?

My research suggests that events from Early Bronze II to Late Iron II
(Josiah's reign and the Exile) have been compressed into a story of an
Exodus and Conquest set in the 16th or 15th century BCE. The archaeological
evidence looks to me and most Critical scholars to be Iron IA being the
settling of the Land ca. 1200 BC but projected into hoary antiquity by the
biblical narrator and the 18th dynasty of Egypt.  My research reveals  the
Hyksos expulsion of ca. 1560-1540 BC is what is providing the Exodus date
being used in the narratives. But Iron I events are fused to the 1540 BC
expulsion.

One of the great mysteries of archaeology is that despite repeated attempts
to find evidence of the Exodus by some 600,000 Israelite warriors and their
familes, not a sherd has been found of the Late Bronze Age (16th-15th
century BCE) in the Sinai, or Negev and several towns mentioned did not
exist at this time in Egypt, the Negev, Transjordan and Canaan.

Particularly frustrating is the location of Mount Sinai. Despite Gebel Musa
near St. Catherine's moastery being identified as Mt. Horeb by
Romano-Christian traditions of the  4th century AD, repeated archaeological
surveys and sweeps have failed to turn up any Late Bronze campsites or
graves sites for the thousands who perished in the Golden Calf  incident-
yet tombs exist of the Early Bronze Age throughout the Sinai!  One Israeli
scholar in a book on the wanderings of Israel and Mt. Sinai, Professor
Menashe Har-el (Har-el in Hebrew meaning "The Mountain of God") has noted 13
different scholarly proposals for the location of Mt. Sinai (cf. his book titled The Sinai Journeys, The Route of the Exodus. San Diego, California. Ridgefield.1983) . Not one of the site proposals have been confirmed because none have the pottery debris of the Late Bronze period in association with them. These 13 sites also fail in providing pottery debris for an Exodus ca. 1250 BC, favored by many Critical scholars, that is, in Ramesside times (noting the mention of Ramesses in Exodus 12:37) and Early Iron IA, ca. 1200 BC.

I have argued that events at Mount Timna (Israeli Har Timna), on the eastern
border of the Sinai Wilderness, is what   -in part-  lurks behind the Pentateuchal
narratives of Mt. Sinai/Horeb.  Here's my argumentation in brief:

1. Iron Age events (Iron Age IA), the settlement of the Land of Canaan are
being projected into the 16th/15th century BC and fused with the Hyksos
expulsion, to create the Exodus  story.

2. We are told Mt. Sinai/Horeb IS IN the wilderness of Sinai (Ex 19:2)

3. Moses led Jethro the Midianite's sheep to the wilderness [of Sinai], to
Horeb, the Mountain of God (Hebrew: Har-El).

4. Later, after the Exodus from Egypt, he encounters Jethro at Mt. Sinai.

5. We need a site that is AS CLOSE TO MIDIAN AS WE CAN GET, YET STILL IN THE SINAI WILDERNESS, that is Har Timna, on the eastern perimeter of the Sinai (cf. Franz's and Spark's arguments that Mt. Sinai is NOT "in" Midian.

6. We need a site that has either Late Bronze or Early Iron I pottery
evidence of Midianites and peoples from the Negeb (Moses' Israelites
settling in the Negeb, the homeland of Jacob and Isaac). We also need
pottery evidence of peoples from Egypt.  Har Timna has all three pottery
forms, which cover the Late Bronze-Early Iron I periods (1318-1156 BC)!

7. We are told a Tabernacle or tent-shrine exists at Mt.Horeb/Sinai. Remains
of a tent believed to have been erected by Midianites exists at Timna,
placed over the Egyptian Hathor Shrine.

8. Moses makes a serpent of bronze for Israel to behold in the wanderings. A
bronze serpent was found at the tent-shrine.

9. Moses erects masseboth at Mt. Sinai (Ex 24:4 "pillars"). A row of
masseboth were found in the Timna Tent-Shrine, believed to have been erected by Midianites.

10. Moses destroys the Egyptian god (Golden calf). Stone pillars bearing the face of Hathor the cow-goddess who gave birth to the sun each day as a calf, are effaced by the Midianites.

11. At Sinai we are informed Israel worships Egyptian gods as well as God.
We need a site that shows non-Egyptians worshipping Egyptian gods. Votive
offerings at the Hathor shrine are a mix of Egyptian and Midianite and
Negebite (based on the pottery there which is Negebite, Midianite and
Egyptian).

12. The Exodus story is set in Ramesside times with its city of Ramesses.
The Hathor shrine at Timna was erected in Ramesside times (Seti I, Rameses
II  through  Ramesses V) and maintained till ca. 1156 BC.

13. A pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night is associated with Mt. Sinai.  The
Egyptians were in charge of the mining of copper at Timna with a workforce
of Negebites and Midianites. They had developed an improved smelting system
whereby fires were stoked day and night. The clouds of smoke by day
evidently reflected the glowing charcoal fires by night making the "pillar
of cloud."

Knauth : "So efficient was the Egyptian operation that smelting furnaces burned round the clock, raising output and saving fuel. Instead of stoking new fires each morning, as had been done by earlier smiths. the Egyptians ran the furnaces at top temperatures for several days at a time. An average smelt, under Egyptian management, yielded more than 200 pounds of copper at once- a far cry from the 20 pounds that could be smelted by older methods at Timna." (p.52, "Streamlining an Age-Old Smelting Process," Percy Knauth. The Metalsmiths [The Emergence of man Series]. New York. Time-Life Books. 1974). Perhaps the smoke plumes were transformed into a pillar of cloud ?

14.  The burning bush recalls the acacia trees being burned for charcoal for the smelting operations.

15. This is the only site near the Sinai, that posssesses the required pottery assemblages, Late Bronze-Early Iron I, of  a peoples from Egypt, the Negev, and Midian.

16.  While at Mt. Sinai Israel is engaged in metalurgical activities, she casts gold, silver and bronze objects for the Tabernacle. So the *ideal site* ought to have evidence of objects being cast "on-site," and some of these objects ought to be of a "religious" nature. The Hathor shrine at Timna possesses votive objects cast "on site" of armbands, rings, ear-rings and figurines, like a bronze snake, a ram and a phallic male idol cast in copper (still partially in its mold). The Timna area was sacred since Chalcolithic times as a occupation of that era underlies the Egyptian Hathor shrine.

17.  Deuteronomy 1:2 suggests Mt. Horeb is eleven days journey from Kadesh Barnea. The current scholarly consensus is that Ain el Qadeis or Ain el Qudeirat in the Negev is the site.  A daily rate of march for a physically fit army is between 15-20 miles a day. Pharaoh Tuthmoses III mentions his army reaching Gaza from Sile in Egypt, in ten days, traveling a rate of 15 miles a day.  The Israelites, burdened with women, children, the aged, herds of goats, sheep and cattle, would not be able to attain the 15 miles a day that the Egyptian army achieved. A rate of 6 miles a day would be more reasonable. The distance from Har Timna to Ain el Qadeis is approximately 66 miles, traveling at a rate of 6 miles a day, in 11 days Ain el Qadeis could be reached from Har Timna. Bryant G. Wood observes : "A large group of pastoralists moving with their possessions and animals can cover no more than 6 miles in a day, and usually less (Conder 1883: 79; cf. Beitzel 1985: 91). The limiting factor is the animals. When the Israelites left Egypt, they had "large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds" (Ex 13:38). "

18.  Deuteronomy 1:2 suggests that "the way to Seir" is a route used to reached Kadesh Barnea from Mt. Sinai.  There appears to be conflicting statements about Seir's location in the biblical texts.  It is identified with the mountains to the east of the Arabah in some verses, and with the western side of the Arabah in others. Some scholars have proposed that the Darb esh-Sha`ira, a track going south from the Negev, past Gebal esh-Sha`ira (to the west of Eilat) and on to the southern Sinai, is the "way to Seir." If they are correct, then Timna which lies just east of the Darb esh-Sha`ira, might be Mt. Sinai/Horeb.

Totaling up the above 18 correspondences I have concluded that Har Timna is one of the "prototypes" lurking behind the Bible's Mount Sinai.

I am not arguing here that there was a "real" Exodus as portrayed in the BIble, that is fiction. I am seeking the historical "kernels", attested by archaeology, which were later transformed into the Exodus story. Based on the above findings, it appears to me, that traditions about metalurgy being practiced at Mt. Sinai, that is objects being cast for religious purposes (the Tabernacle), is drawing from votives in copper being cast for the shrine dedicated to Hathor (the biblical notion of Egyptian gods being worshipped). The seasonal return of the Negebites to their land, as well as the seasonal return of the Midianites to their lands after mining operatations at Timna, became in the re-telling Jethro and Hobab taking leave of Moses at Mt. Sinai. The notion that Israel, identified with the Negeb, was also from Egypt, is drawing from the Egyptian presence in the Timna and Sinai. It was the Egyptian initiative that had Negebites and Midianites in the Sinai mines (Serabit el-Khadim, Riqeita and Timna). Egypt's withdrawal from the Sinai (ca. 1144-1141 BC in the days of Ramesses V) and Canaan, becomes reformatted as God delivering his people from Egyptian domination. The Exodus story, then, is recalling real events from the Late Bronze-Early Iron transition period, and projecting them into the 16th century and linking them up with the Hyksos expulsion ca. 1560-1540 Under Pharaoh Ahmose I, who became in the re-telling "Moses."

It is my understanding that events at the Egyptian Hathor shrine located at Wadi Mene'iyeh in the Arabah (Israel is portrayed in the biblical narratives as wandering not only in the Southern Sinai, but the Arabah as well) have been combined and fused with events in the vicinity of the Hathor shrine at Serabit el Khadim in the Southern Sinai.

Timna has the votives cast in metal, bracelets, rings, and ear-rings, etc., honoring Egyptian gods, made by peoples from South Canaan and the Negev, and a tabernacle or tent-shrine, historical kernels underlying the Exodus narratives (Israel being portrayed as casting objects from their bracelets, rings, and ear-rings).  What Timna does NOT possess, however, is the tablets made from the living rock of the mountainside by God's hand and given to Moses, who later destroys them, leaving them strewn upon the ground. It is in the vicinity of Serabit el Khadim that archaic Proto-Sinaitic inscriptions are found near mine entrances, carved into the living rock of the mountain sides by the Asiatic miners from South Canaan. Archaeologists have also found and noted that some of these inscriptions appear upon stone tablets that were found STREWN UPON THE GROUND'S SURFACE, here, for me is the historical kernel, of Mose's tablets broken and lying on the ground. In some cases these tablets are found in association with burial tumuli of the deceased South Canaanite miners. Perhaps this is the historical kernel underlying the slaughter of the thousands for worshipping the Golden Calf, said slaughter being precipitated by Moses' casting the stone tablets to the ground and ordering vengenace upon his people. 

Beit-Arieh, an Israeli archaeologist, with extensive experience with the Sinai, remarks about Proto-Sinaitic inscriptions found on stones labs "strewn" on the ground outside mine entrances in the vicinity of Serabit el-Khadim, which, he argues, is evidence of miners from South Canaan working for the Egyptians (his article discusses the identity of the Asiatic Miners, and when they were at the mines):

"Obviously, if the metallurgical equipment can be dated to the final period of Egyptian activity at the site (New Kingdom) this is strong evidence to the same period.  It should be remembered that several of the inscribed slabs found at the beginning of the century were found strewn on the surface outside the mine shafts, additional evidence that they belong to the final phase of Egyptian presence at the site."

(pp. 63-5. Itzhaq Beit-Arieh. "Canaanites and Egyptians At Serabit el-Khadim." Anson F. Rainey, editor. Egypt, Israel Sinai; Archaeological and Historical Relationships In The Biblical Period. Tel Aviv, Israel. Tel Aviv University. 1987 [These papers being presented in 1982 at a conference at Tel Aviv] ISBN 965-224-008-7)

Pottery debris of Iron II Judah has been found at a tell in Wadi Feiran (biblical Paran ? Byzantine Pharan), perhaps this pottery is indictative of Iron II Judaean viitors to the Southern Sinai, who saw the graves, the archaic Proto-Sinaitic inscriptions in the living rock and on tablets broken and cast to the ground, associated with burial tumuli, and thus they were inspired to create a story about their ancestors angering God at Mount Sinai/Horeb?

Rothenberg had found a quantity of cloth colored red and yellow with beads sewn on to it at the Hathor Shrine at Har Timna ( He also found copious quantitities of beads dedicated to Hathor, some, probably from sacred Menant necklaces). He thought it might be the remains of a Midianite tent, set up after the Egyptians withdrew from Timnah in the reign of Ramesses V. I have recently learned that Hathor possessed an epithet, "Mistress of the Red Cloth," or "She of the Red Cloth." I contacted Dr. Geraldine Pinch who wrote a book on votive offerings to Hathor (Geraldine Pinch. Votive Offerings to Hathor. Oxford University Press. 1993), to ask her if she could explain why Hathor would have this strange epithet and if possibly the red-yellow cloth with beads found by Rothenberg might be in fact a votive offering to Hathor and not a Midianite Tent.

Dr. Pinch replied:

"Hathor's association with red comes primarily through her role as the
bloodthirsty daughter of Ra. I have written about this in my article
`Red Things' in Colour and Painting in Ancient Egypt (ed. W.V.Davies)
British Museum Press. I illustrate a lot of votive textiles in my book
on Hathor. Some of these show a red and yellow cloth with blue beads
draped over shrines of Hathor, so, draw your own conclusions about
Timna..."

Perhaps, just perhaps, the cloth found by Rothenberg is not a Midianite tent, but a votive to Hathor? I find it strange that if Israel so honored Yahweh's Tabernacle in the Wilderness that she had it with her at Shiloh, that the Midianites would abandon such a holy relic at Timna. If Israel is, in part drawing some of her notions from Midianite religious beliefs and practices as alleged by some scholars, I find it unusual that the Midianite Tabernacle was abandoned.

Now, if the cloth is a votive to Hathor, and the beads sewn on it being sacred to her (as Menant sacred bead necklaces are) it would be understandable that the Midianites would have no interest in it and not take it with them back to Midian.

Also of interest is that Rothenberg in 1972 wrote that the bronze serpent was found within the sacred Naos of the Midianite shrine at Timna. He has corrected this statement in his 1988 work, advising that a review of field notes indicates that the serpent was NOT found within the Naos, but outside of it (cf. p. 89. Note 84. Beno Rothenberg. The Egyptian Mining Temple at Timna. London. Institute for Archaeo-Metallic Studies, Institute of Archaeology, University College London. 1988). In 1972 he wrote that the bronze serpent was the only item found in the Naos. It would appear that nothing was worshipped by the Midianites in the Naos from this new development. Could this be Yahweh, of whom no image is to be made? In his 1988 (p. 89. Note 91) work he also reports two shallow cup marks on the boulder's surface (perhaps to receive libations?).

Scholars have studied the textiles unearthed at the Timna Hathor shrine in the Arabah and have concluded that they appear to have been made by Asiatics, not Egyptians. The textiles were identified as being either Linen (from Flax) or Woolen. The manner of the weave appears to be Asiatic. The Egyptians are believed to have preferred linen textiles, the few woolen examples found in Egypt are suggested to have been by Asiatic weavers who either resided there or were imports into the country. The Timna linens are of a weave not found found in Egypt, leading Sheffer and Tidhar to suggest they were made by Asiatics (cf. p. 230. Avigail Sheffer and Amalia Tidhar. "Textiles- Conclusions." Beno Rothenberg. The Egyptian Mining Temple at Timna. 1988. London [cf. p. 224 for pinkish-blue-green, red, red & yellow, and blue colored fabrics; p. 225 tasseled fabric or fringes; p. 226 yellow threads for fringe, for priests]).

Two differing textile weights were found, heavy cloths and lighter, finer cloths. It is suggested that the heavier cloths were for awnings, curtains and perhaps a Tent cloth, whilst the lighter, finer weaves were of clothing for the priests officiating at the shrine. The textiles exhibited different dyes, yellow, red, blue and pink. Tassles or fringe were also found as well as cordage. The cordage was suggested to be either for the tent shrine or perhaps belts for tunics (cf. pp. 224-230, Sheffer & Tidhar).

The excavators were impressed by the quantity of textiles and their numerous locations. Some of the textiles may have been dedicated to Hathor, but others appear to have been dedicated during the so-called "Midianite phase," when a Tent shrine was erected, after the Egyptians abandoned Timna, ca. 1140 BC.

Avigail Sheffer & Amalia Tidhar:

"(1) On a large number of the Timna textiles the thread is z-spun. Since z-spinning is entirely absent in Egyptian fabrics of the early periods, the z-spun fabrics of the later periods may have been either imports or made by foreign weavers in Egypt.

Almost no woolens from the 14th to 12th centuries BC are known from excavations in Egypt, and, moreover, it is unlikely that any woolen fabrics would be found inside an Egyptian temple, since the use of wool in connection with ritual was taboo in ancient Egypt. Yet, in Timna a large number of woolen textiles were found inside the temple. The linen fragments demonstrate the use of the tabby weave, with approximately the same number of warps and wefts to the square centimeter (equal count). However, in Egyptian linen of all periods the warps greatly exceed the wefts in number, and sometimes the weft threads were nearly obscured by them. We therefore conclude that most of the Timna textiles did not originate in Egypt, but were possibly brought to the site, or locally produced, by the mine workers recruited, according to the archaeological evidence, from the Negev tribes or North West Arabia (Midian).

(2) Although the above data can tell us little about function, the coarser and heavier textiles may have been tent cloth (for awnings, partions, etc.) or perhaps curtains' the fine textiles are probably remnants of clothes or priests' sacred vestments which were kept permanently in the temple. There are also pieces of cord which could have served many purposes; they might have been tent ropes or even belts."

(p. 230. Avigail Sheffer & Amalia Tidhar. "Textiles- Conclusions." Beno Rothenberg. The Egyptian Mining Temple at Timna. London. 1988)

It is of note that the cordage and textiles finds, heavy cloths for curtains, awning and tent cloths as well as lighter, finer clothing textiles, with fringing, tassles and cords, ALL APPEAR in the description of the furnishings of the Tabernacle as noted by the Exodus traditions (cf. Exodus 35:19-26), which portrays Asiatic women (Israelite wives) weaving linen and woolen items such as curtains and veils as donations to the Tabernacle, dyed in blue, purple and red, as well as clothing for the priests and tassles and cords for the tent.

Also of interest, found within the sanctuary were four mineral votives, semi-precious stones, 1) Whitish Selenite Crystal 4x2x3 cm.; 2) Micritic Limestone Calcite, stained pink, 4.5x1x2 cm.; 3) Red-brown Haematite, 2.5x2x0.75 cm.; and 4) a Chert concretion, buff to gray, 2 cm. (cf. p. 266 Rothenberg. 1988. Timna Temple). It is MY UNDERSTANDING that these small stones are what is behind the notion of 12 precious stones as votives for Aaron's Ephod (Ex 39:1-15).

It is my conlusion that events, as attested the archaeological findings at the Hathor shrine at Har Timna in Ramesside times (Seti I - Ramesses V, ca. 1291-1141 BC), are what lurks behind -in part- the Exodus traditions of donations to the Tabernacle at Mount Horeb on the border of Midian in the Wilderness of Sinai and the Arabah, the Midianites perhaps laying claim to Har Timna (Gebel Mene'ieyeh) after Egypt departed the area, thus I understand that "Mount Horeb near Midian" is Har Timna/Gebel Mene'ieyeh. Could it possibly be that " 'ieyeh" of Gebel Mene'ieyeh preserves the statement found in Exodus?

Exodus 3:13-14 (RSV)

"Then Moses said to God, "If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name ?' what shall I say to them ?" God said to Moses, "I AM WHO IAM" [ehyeh asher ehyeh]." And he said, "Say this to the people of Israel, 'I AM [Ehyeh] has sent me to you."

Despite numerous locations proposed for Mount Sinai or Horeb, no scholarly consensus has been reached because archaeologists demand archaeological proof of encampments in the form of pottery debris from either the Late Bronze Age, for those arguing the Exodus was ca. 1446 BC as suggested by 1 Kings 6:1, or the Early Iron I Ramesside era as Israel is said to have begun its Exodus from a place called Rameses and the sudden appearance of 200+ villages of stone in Iron I, in the Hill Country of Canaan, is for these scholars the settlement of Israel in Canaan underJoshua.

Dr. Pinch has suggested that the Timna copper mines may have been worked as early as Pharaoh Amenhotep III (ca. 1386-1349 BC) of the 18th Dynasty, if her proposal is correct, then we have evidence for two sites possessing "the required" Late Bronze Age (ca. 1560-1200 BC)  and Early Iron IA (ca. 1220-1100 BC) pottery debris to correctly site Mount Sinai or Mount Horeb, the Egyptian-run mining camps of Serabit el Khadim in the southern Sinai and Har Timna in the mountains forming the eastern border of the Sinai:

"On the basis of the inscribed faience, Rothenberg (1972.132, 171) and Schulman (1976.117, 126) date all the Egyptian faience from Timna to the Ramesside period. Only 25 pieces of votive faience inscribed with royal names were recovered from the temple, compared with nearly 500 from Serabit el-Khadim. The royal names mentioned are Seti I, Ramesses II, Merenptah, Seti II, Tawosret and Ramesses III, IV, and V (Schulman in Rothenberg 1988.145). At Serabit el-Khadim the date range of the 'royal name' faience is from Amonhotpe I to Ramesses VI, but the Ramesside rulers seem to have dedicated a much greater quantity and wider variety of inscribed faience than the 18th dynasty rulers did (1.4.3). Given this, and the troubled history of the Timna temple, if offerings were made there during the 18th dynasty, one would expect only a small proportion of the surviving faience to be of that date.

Most of the non 'royal name' Timna faience can be dated to the Ramesside period by style, technique and material, but some categories provide exceptions. The evidence of the comparitive material from Deir el-Bahri and Serabit el-Khadim suggests that some of the cat figurines found at Timna are 18th dynasty...One of the Timna Hathor masks (1988 fig. 30.1) is similar to the 18th dynasty pieces from Deir el-Bahri (e.g. Pl.30). The fish and flower decoration on some of the faience bowls is of a type usually dated to the 18th dynasty...The use of spiral decoration around the rim of bowls decorated with fish and flowers is charcteristic only of the 18th dynasty (2.11.3.1). Some of the beads common at Timna, such as the corrugated sheroids and gadrooned discs, are usually dated to the 18th dynasty...Much of the glass and some of the pottery could date to the late 18th dynasty (1.5.2). On the basis of the objects themselves, I would suggest that offerings were being made at Timna as early as the reign of Amonhotpe III." 

(pp. 66-67. "Timna." Geraldine Pinch. Votive Offerings to Hathor. Oxford. Griffith Institute, Ashmolean Museum. 1993. ISBN 0-900416-55-6 pbk)

Pinch:

"The Timna temple was an Egyptian foundation dedicated to Hathor, Lady of Mefkat [Turquoise]. It was used by copper mining expeditions. A shrine may have existed at the site as early as the reign of Amonhotpe III. The temple was repaired and rebuilt several times, probably under Seti I, Ramesses II, and Ramesses III. It is of a basic Egyptian type, with the semi rock-cut sanctuary characteristic of Hathor shrines.

Hardly any votive stelae or statues have survived intact. The date range of the small Egyptian offerings is from the late 18th dynasty to the mid 20th dynasty. The 'royal name' faience is similar to that from Serabit el-Khadim, but most of the Timna offerings are Ramesside. Timna was a state-run temple at this period, but is unlikely to have had a permanent staff. The local peoples who worked with the Egyptians probably made some offerings in the temple, but there is also evidence for Midianite hostility towards the Hathor cult."

(p. 70. "Timna." Geraldine Pinch. Votive Offerings to Hathor. Oxford. Griffith Institute, Ashmolean Museum. 1993. ISBN 0-900416-55-6. Note: on pp. 61-65 Pinch gives her reasons for why she suspects Timna may have existed as an Egyptian site under Amenhotep III).

Despite my having identified two possible sites for Mount Sinai, Serabit el Khadim and Har Timna, in a mountainous setting with a Late Bronze and Iron I presence, we still have "problems." In regards to Har Timna, the tent, if Midianite, is not the Tabernacle of the Exodus, as that tent was said to have been placed in the Temple of Solomon at Jersualem in the Holy of Holies. The bronze serpent Moses made was also kept at the Jerusalem temple until destroyed under the reign of Hezekiah. So, I guess the best that can be said about Har Timna and its "Midianite" remains, is that it suggests that certain customs were in effect in Ramesside times which reflect somewhat similar customs among the Hebrews at Mount Sinai. As regards Serabit el Khadim, the shattered stela-form tablets do not bear the 10 commandments on their surfaces, so they are not the stones Moses presented to Israel.

Hobbs has noted that a Neolithic (New Stoneage circa 5,500 to 4,500 BC) settlement was found on a slight banana-shaped rise abutting the south western edge of the plain of er Raha (el Raha, ar-Raaha). I wonder if perhaps as early as Neolithic times some of the nearby mountains may have been regarded as "sacred"? If Neolithic folk could dwell long enough here to build a settlement in stone, perhaps a tent-dwelling Israel could have survived here as well? The banana-shaped rise would protect the settlement being destroyed by sudden flood torrents in the wadies descending Ras esh-Safsaf and Gebel Musa during the winter rains.

The Bible has Israel encamped at Mt. Sinai/Horeb for one year, which would mean she would have to contend with possible winter flooding from the wadies emptying on to the er Raha plain. It would make sense to me that the banana-shaped rise would be the "safest" area for Israel to camp upon to avoid floods which could possibly destroy the encampment and the flocks of animals she had with her. Please click here for a map of the er-Raha plain showing the "banana-shaped rise."

Is it possible that later generations -an 8th century BC Iron Age II Israelite party who left its pottery at the Feiran Oasis, visited also the er-Raha plain, and misidentified the Neolithic village of stone as Moses' encampment at the foot of Mount Horeb/Sinai?

Hobbs:

"I returned to Mount Sinai last week. I spent the first afternoon walking across the Plain of ar-Raaha, taking stock of the growth that has occurred there since my last visit in 1989...I spent the night in a two-year-old, one-hundred-bed hotel called Daniella Village. It reportedly sits directly atop a Neolithic period settlement on the banana-shaped rise at the southern end of the plain."

(p. 306. "Conclusion." Joseph J. Hobbs. Mount Sinai. Austin, Texas. University of Texas Press. 1995. ISBN 0-292-73091-8)

Bibliography:

Yohanan Aharoni. p.166, "Kadesh-Barnea and Mount Sinai." Beno Rothenberg. God's Wilderness, Discoveries in Sinai. New York. Thomas Nelson & Sons.1961, 1962.

Beit-Arieh. "Canaanites and Egyptians At Serabit el-Khadim." Anson F. Rainey, editor. Egypt, Israel Sinai; Archaeological and Historical Relationships In The Biblical Period. Tel Aviv, Israel. Tel Aviv University. 1987

Willam G. Dever. Vol. 3, p. 547.   "Israel, History of, Archaeology and the Conquest." David Noel Freedman, Editor. The Anchor Bible Dictionary. New York. Doubleday. 1992. 6 vols.

Israel Finkelstein & Neil Asher Silberman. pp. 62-63, "Did the Exodus Happen ?" The Bible Unearthed, Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of its Sacred Texts. New York. The Free Press. 2001.  ISBN 0-684-86912-8.

Gordon Franz.  "Is Mount Sinai in Saudi Arabia ?"    http://www.ldolphin.org/franz-sinai.html

Menashe Har-el. The Sinai Journeys, The Route of the Exodus. San Diego, California. Ridgefield.1983.

Joseph J. Hobbs. Mount Sinai. Austin, Texas. University of Texas Press. 1995. ISBN 0-292-73091-8.

Percy Knauth. p.52, "Streamlining an Age-Old Smelting Process," The Metalsmiths [The Emergence of man Series]. New York. Time-Life Books. 1974.

Emil G. Kraeling. pp.110-113, "The Wilderness Sojourn," Rand McNally BIble Atlas. New York. Rand McNally & Co., 1966.

Aviram Perevolotsky & Israel Finkelstein, p.28. "The Southern Sinai Exodus Route in Ecological Perspective." Biblical Archaeology Review. July-August 1985, Vol. XI, No.4. 

Geraldine Pinch. Votive Offerings to Hathor.Griffith Institute, Ashmolean Museum. 1993. ISBN 0-900416-55-6.

John Romer. Testament. p. 58, "Genesis."  The Bible and History. New York. Henry Holt & Co. 1988. ISBN 0-8050-0939-6.

Beno Rothenberg. Vol. 4, pp.1184-1203,  "Timna,"  Michael Avi-Yonah & Ephraim Stern, Editiors. Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Prentice-Hall. 1978. ISBN 0-13-275149-6

Beno Rothenberg. The Egyptian Mining Temple at Timna. London. Institute for Archaeo-Metallic Studies, Institute of Archaeology, University College London. 1988.

Steven A. Rosen. p.1064, Vol. 4. "Negeb." David Noel Freedman, Editor. The Anchor Bible Dictionary. New York. Doubleday. 1992. 6 vols.


Bryant G. Wood. "Thoughts on Jebel al-Lawz and the Location of Mt. Sinai." March 1, 2001.  http://christiananswers.net/abr/jebel_thoughts.html



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